They stole the Golden Brat –but couldn't stop Oktoberfest from coming

Thieves took La Crosse's 8-foot-long sausage right off the grill.
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Here's a lesson for the grinches who tried to make off with La Crosse's Golden Brat early Friday morning: Oktoberfest isn't something that comes off the grill – it comes from the spirit. 

An 80 pound bratwurst sometimes helps that spirit get rolling. But even if it's spoiled by thieves, the people of La Crosse won't let that ruin their event. 

What's the Golden Brat ?

First you should know that La Crosse is home to an Oktoberfest celebration that's been ranked as one of the best in America – more than once

And while there are lots of fun activities in the four day festival, one of the highlights is the Golden Brat. 

A bratwurst that's about eight feet long gets cooked up overnight and there's a big ceremonial slicing of the Golden Brat before it's served with breakfast in a fundraiser at the American Legion hall. 

What happened to it?

While this year's brat was cooking, some hooligans swiped it right off the grill at about 3 a.m., WEAU reports

They didn't get far, though. Or at least the brat didn't. It was recovered in the alley behind the Legion hall. But it had been dropped on the ground and broke into three pieces. 

Cali Hoffman, a disappointed bartender at American Legion Post 52 told WEAU: "I know that the people have been cooking it since 9 o'clock last night, been here all night, didn't sleep anything like that and people just stole it just for fun and games."

The La Crosse Tribune says police plan to review surveillance video to see if it shows the culprits. 

But the immediate question was "Can the Golden Brat be saved?" And it was ... sort of. 

The grillmeisters put the pieces together again, finished cooking the big brat, and carried out the ceremonial carving (the Tribune posted video of it).

Of course, since it had been on the ground, this year's Golden Brat could not actually be eaten. But there was still a breakfast buffet at the Legion's fundraiser with proceeds going to veterans programs and youth scholarships, Adjutant David Johnson told WKBT.

Meanwhile the tapping of the Golden Keg went on as usual later Friday and the Maple Leaf Parade is set to start at 10 a.m. sharp Saturday. Prost!

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